You Must Be This Tall to Shop
The idea not so much struck me as it was violently rattled out of my head.
At the end of my recent adventure at Universal Studios Florida, I was tricked into riding the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. I’m generally not afraid of roller coasters, but it had been a busy few days packed with spinning and lurching and dropping and falling. And careening. Lots of careening.
I was good to go…home. My fun quotient had been met. (I didn’t even want to ride the tram to the parking lot, that’s how saturated I was in fun.) So when the gang had the great idea of taming the monster coaster, I politely declined. Several times.
Yet somehow, 35 minutes later, I was strapped into a seat, the scent of fear and French fries wafting off of me. (It is my theory they distracted me with food cart fried goods. I’m only human.)
I can’t tell you much about that ride. I was brutally shaken and tossed. I probably burst the eardrum of that annoying kid next to me (that’s what you get for waving your hands in the air like you’re soooo brave). I had heard about out-of-body experiences, so I was really struggling to make that happen.
Instead I had a vision. Behind my scrunched closed eyes, I imagined an aerial view of the park. Clusters of families having a good time. They were discovering things, experiencing things. They had so much to choose from. They didn’t want to leave.
Then it hit me. In-store shopping should be like going to an amusement park.
Think about it. Today, shoppers want destinations. Big box stores with rows and rows of the same items can’t compete with an experience-rich, shopper-centric retail adventure (will we keep calling them stores?). Sephora and Verizon do this brilliantly.
Granted, makeup and technology are easier to make destination-worthy than, say, an auto parts store or a men’s clothing shop. But it can – and should – be done. Simply look at a retail business through an amusement park lens; the energy and ideas will change. What are they doing at Super Happy Funtown that retail marketers can adapt to create a retail destination?
Work the theme.
It’s called a theme park, after all. Creating an emotional through line for the visitors keeps them engaged. It’s satisfying to follow a story; to see things that are familiar and watch them evolve.
Provide something for everyone.
Everyone who goes to an amusement park will find something fun to do. That’s on purpose. These parks must provide experiences for different age groups and engagement levels.
Curate the experience.
Every detail of the amusement park visitor’s experience is carefully selected and placed. Think of it as storytelling meets event production.
Feed the eyes.
The goal is to create a visual landscape that immerses the guest without overwhelming her. There must be something amazing to see around each corner and at every curated spot in the store.
Distract from the boring parts.
The line to ride the big coaster is always a mile long. That’s why they backtrack the line and use that interactive cartoon guy to work the crowd. How can a retail marketer make the register line fun?
Excel at customer service.
Inside the park, the customer service person is right there when you need him, and out of the way when you don’t. He is looking to create an experience for the visitor (by being present, informed, interested and pleasant). If the retail space is staffed with like-minded folks, customer service will enhance the image of retail destination.
Point them in the right direction.
No one likes to feel lost, whether they’re in Adventureland or the newest yoga wear boutique. It’s critical to make the space easy to navigate, with wayfinding signage appropriately plentiful and tied thematically to the overall experience.
Show guests having a good time.
Have you ever stood on that little bridge after the water ride to see the next group go by – and get hugely splashed? People love to see other people enjoying themselves. It draws them in, let’s them see what they’re in for, and, in time, allows them to feel comfortable about taking part.
Giving me a reason to return.
Of course you should incent future visits with loyalty programs and members-only sales. But your store is a destination. So expand that thinking to include invites to upcoming VIP events, a series of classes, previews, first-looks and new experience alerts.